When iPhone encryption stymied the FBI, federal agents in two separate court cases tried to force Apple to help them access data. One phone belonged to a suspected drug dealer, and the other to Syed Rizwan Farook, the shooter in the San Bernardino, Calif., terror attack.
While the US government dropped the San Bernardino, Calif., case this week after finding an alternative way to access Mr. Farook’s data, the debate about encryption on consumer devices is far from over.
Encryption keeps some of your most vital data safe.
t protects your credit card information from being stolen by anyone eavesdropping on your Internet traffic when you make purchases online. It’s also used to keep medical information secure, protect free speech, and defend against surveillance. Increasingly, encryption is becoming widely available by default on consumer devices like smartphones.
But law enforcement and intelligence agencies say this trend of strong security on consumer devices has consequences: Encryption is hindering their investigations of criminals and terrorists.
That conversation is happening on a national level. President Obama at South by Southwest Interactive called for the tech community to find a way to protect both consumer security and national security.
So, to help you learn more about encryption – whether it’s to improve your own security, or help form your opinion in this heated debate – we spoke with several experts to create a practical guide on the basics.